Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Little Vegan Who Wouldn't

Here's a funny confession.
I'm not going to do a weeklong vegan diet experiment after all.
I knew we could eat deliciously for every meal. Some of our "normal" meals already are vegan, in fact. Like that bowl of beans and rice with zucchini, gently sloshed with a little vegetable broth and brightened with a squeeze of lemon.
I read a whole book on going vegan. It was charming (and rather youth oriented), but by the end it seemed to be veering into a horrible rule-bound cult. All vegans eat the same recipes. And if a recipe includes vegan burger crumbles, you don't gag, you buy the crumbles. Whatever they are.
So, is my disagreement with the diet or its practitioners? No problem. I can ignore the practitioners and dream up lovely meals free of animal products on my own (and I will not buy oatmeal).
Just the other day, Mark Bittman of the NYT was urging his readers to try a scattering of nice dishes he had come up with. He suggested that a vegan diet might be a good weight management strategy. Oh! "Weight management" means you are too heavy. I am not too heavy, far from it.
I started thinking what I would have to do without. Sour cream. Butter. Milk. Eggs. (I know! I already knew that!) I need the fat and protein from those foods. Yes, there are vegan substitutes for them, but they are not local, and they are processed, a big no-no for me. And what are they made from?
This all sounds like an excuse, doesn't it? It is an excuse. Excuse me for not going overboard in my eating just to satisfy a curiosity.
If you ever see me with a bag of vegan burger crumbles, please call somebody.


cookiecrumb said...


Zoomie said...

Not an excuse to my ears, rather a well thought-out reason for not doing something. You guys eat well, anyway. You don't need to be trendy. And "crumbles" of just about anything are nasty.

Kailyn said...

I cannot imagine life without dairy and eggs. Once upon a time I ate ice cream on a daily basis because I needed the calories simply to maintain my weight.

namastenancy said...

Once upon a time in my youth, I went' vegan" for about a year. I gained weight like crazy because my body craved animal protein - not a lot of it, but some. I also became anemic so imagine this - Nancy the fattie who was also anemic. It was not pretty. I started eating "regular" and lost weight, although I remained (and still am) heavy. But I suspect that's genetic because there's not a thin person on either side of my family tree except my grandfather and he ..well, who knows? Maybe he was a genetic anomaly but a great guy.
Besides, I discovered that I dislike tempeh; I was at a party over the Christmas season and everybody was vegetarian/vegan. One couple prepared Tempeh with some sort of sweet orange sauce. I don't know what was worse - the salt or the sugar.
So you just do what your little heart desires. We'll forgive you (ahem..cough...) because we love you as you are.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: I appreciate that. I'm a little worried hardcore vegans are going to come by and whup my heinie. Sigh.

Kailyn: That's something I forgot to mention. I'm pretty much avoiding processed white sugar, and desserts in general. I know in an emergency you need to get your calories somehow, but I want to eat mostly savory food. This may have something to do with why I love fruit so much now.

Nancy: How did you gain weight on a vegan diet? I know, we're all different. See that NYT Magazine story on weight management, as if we could? Interesting tribulations, my dear. Feh to tempeh.

Kailyn said...

I did paleo for a month last year. No processed foods, no refined sugar, no grains, no legumes, no dairy. Never felt more mentally or physically better. Didn't have insomnia for the first time ever. And knowing this I slowly slid back because I love dairy too much. Honey is an ok sweetener and this is what my aunt uses in her ice cream. There is no refined sugar available in my aunt and uncle's house. Grains are pretty easy for me. I only like them in really small amounts. Have you read "The Paleo Solution"?

cookiecrumb said...

I haven't read it, Kailyn, but I've heard of good results. My favorite thing is hearing how good you felt. I'll check out the book, thanks.
We are a honey household, but we don't do much baking.

namastenancy said...

I gained weight on a vegan/vegetarian diet because I replaced protein with carbs. I come from long lines of peasants in Ireland and the Middle East who can survive on one potato or/cup of grain a week and still gain weight. For me, one potato = 2 or 3 pounds. Ditto for rice and bread. Protein satisfies my hunger a lot faster than carbs do, which is something I learned the hard way. I have never been a bit sugar/sweets person but I love love my potatoes and bread. It's hard to cut them out but cut I must. Today I had a sandwich with two slices of bread - that equals a pound up. Everybody's body is different and researchers are now discovering via science what we discovered years ago via experience - some of us can only eat a few carbs a day if we want to keep the weight in check.

cookiecrumb said...

Nancy: Just, wow! Sounds like you have come to know your eating needs very well. Happy discoveries.

Kate said...

I'm glad you couldn't. I think vegans are well intentioned but deeply misguided. Vegan for a week as a detox? Okay, I can get my head around that, even if I'd never go there without a cancer diagnosis. Vegan as a lifestyle cum cult? No, thanks, as I back carefully away and towards the nearest exit.

Your local and in-season diet is much healthier for you and the environment. And I'm sure it tastes better too.

Greg said...

The vegan diet seems a bit over the top to me.I'm more into all things in moderation. That's my story and I'm sticking with it!;)

namastenancy said...

"Sounds like you have come to know your eating needs very well. "

Snorts with laughter - yes, I FINALLY figured some things out. There are some advantages to being 67.

Still, being partial vegetarian or at least, eating more vegetables is a good thing for all of us. But I don't think you have that problem. Everything that you write about on this blog looks healthy or if not exactly healthy, is eaten in moderation (Yorkshire Pudding yum yum yum). We should all eat as well and mindfully as you do.

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: I totally disbelieve in food as a detox formula. These pseudo medical diets have always been invented by lay people. If you need to lay off meat, fine. But I doubt a strip of bacon will send you to hell.
(Don't get me started on the hot mud baths in Calistoga, designed to draw out your toxins. Do you really want to be the next person who gets in that bath of withdrawn toxins? If it works, ya see. Oh, the blank faces I've encountered on this one.)

Greg: I find vegans really need to be vegans. And let sleeping vegans lie, say I. It's not about food.

Nancy: I haven't told you about the potato chips!

namastenancy said...

Potato chips! OH now! Oh woe! You are tumbling from that pedestal? How will I ever cope? Personally, I think that potato chips are more addictive than crack so if you "indulge" I certainly don't blame you. I don't dare have them around. I have no will power.
I'm glad to see that the vegans haven't announced a Fatwa on you. If they do, wave some bacon on them; they will probably run away in fear.

breeamal said...

All the vegans I know ramble on and on about health and purity and how clean their bodies and diet are... and then they shovel processed, faux food ~ meat substitute into their mouths with an air of smug superiority. I may sound a bit sensitive, but I detest falsehood in my food and prefer to know what I am eating, as much as is possible.
If you want to avoid animal products eat vegetables that look like vegetables, not textured gluten artificially flavored and extruded to resemble chicken nuggets. (I suggest avoiding nuggets of any sort. Why on Earth would you want to eat anything called a "nugget?")

Kate said...

CC, I don't know that I'm convinced of dietary detox, exactly. I think it would be more of a chance to let your body do some good housecleaning while eating lower on the foodchain. It would be more dramatic, I'm sure, for those eating a typically execrable American diet, than for someone like you who eats pretty well to begin with. Maybe certain foods actually facilitate cleanup; maybe not. But I'm pretty sure switching from a heavy routine of drive-thru to vegan for a week would either qualify as "detox" or give results that feel indistinguishable from it.

SallyBR said...

I have a very simple approach to nutrition: I eat almost anything.

I like the fact that I can be invited for dinner and enjoy what is served, no one will need to accommodate my special requests. I won't try dog meat, I won't try monkey meat or brains, and a few other things that might be too far from my comfort zone. That's about it.

Moderation has been my only rule. Works for me.

Chilebrown said...

Bacon is a vegetable at our house.

Hungry Dog said...

Vegan crumbles, funny phrase but not an appetizing thing to eat, whatever the heck they are. Do what you want, no need for rules made up by other people. I saw that Mark Bittman article too, by the way, some of the recipes sounded good but some sounded terrible. When I hear the phrase "Bean burger" I run in the opposite direction, usually toward a hamburger.

namastenancy said...

BTW - fantastic and funny comments. Bacon is a vegetable? Who know - but I'm glad to be enlightened! I am with those who don't like the "faux" products products or the smug, self-righteous air of some vegetarians.

Anonymous said...

My own crackpot theory is that a local diet will let your body adapt to the local environment. Raw and vegan make sense in the tropics, where you can get fresh raw food all year long and probably need the electrolytes to deal with the heat. But in temperate climates, you need more concentrated foods to get you though the cold.

cookiecrumb said...

Breeamal: Can anyone justify the existence of meatless hot dogs? If you're giving up meat, eschew the ersatz.
I just wanted to see what tasty food we could come up with for a week. We coulda done it, but I see this diet's not for me.

Kate: The best results for someone "detoxing" on a vegan diet would be rediscovering real food. But, not vegan hamburger crumbles. Still don't know what they are.
I just discovered Bloody Marys are vegan!

Sally: Of course, you are right. Some chosen diets are not hard to maintain in public/social dining settings. I would feel bad for celiacs who never know where that molecule of gluten is lurking, and other people with serious biological conditions.

ChileBrown: I'm afraid it's a vegetable at our house, too. The winter crop is in the greenhouse.

Hungry Dog: I'm not interested in the rules at all. Just wondered what it would be like for a week. I had ideas for umami flavors! Anyway, back to whatever's in the pantry. And if I bought it, it's good. OTOH, if you see me with a crumble, hit me with a poison dart.

Nancy: Funny food rules make people funny. And that's sad.

cookiecrumb said...

Eat Closet: (Sorry, my dumb joke again.) I love your theory, for whatever it's worth. Needing a winter diet now, I guess I need to eat more than leaves. But I want to add the leaves to the pot of beans.

Hungry Dog Redux: That bean "burger"! Urp.

EB of SpiceDish said...

Somehow (I guess not all that shockingly since I live in SF) I managed to live with assorted vegan roommates for 10 years! They always ate the strangest combos of things and honestly not a one of them was very healthy. All pasty and anemic. Not judging, just fact. I would went vegetarian to respect them and not bring certain things into the house, but when I tried their way of eating I always felt lethargic and that my diet was lacking variety. I know some vegans out there rock it, and more power to them. But hey, if it's not for you, it's not for you. One reason I stopped being a vegetarian was that I read the ingredients label on a fake burger box. There is nothing un-foodier in this world!

cookiecrumb said...

EB: Wow, you did the boot camp with the roommates. You're a good girl. Yep, I can see where veganism would leave you undernourished. I wasn't interested in it ideologically, I just wanted to rock it for a week out of curiosity and a desire to rock. :)

SallyBR said...

Indeed... must add that of course I should consider myself lucky for not having food allergies. Those would have to be taken in account.

I hope I did not sound too insensitive in my first comment ;-)

Kalyn said...

No vegan burger crumbles for me either!

cookiecrumb said...

Sally: I thought you were fine. We can't set a table for every food aversion.

Kalyn: Hi, sweets. Your food is consistently real and beautiful. You follow a nutritional formula, but the average person would never know. Eat up!
THANKS for the calendar... Again. (Still got 'em all.)